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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Mind and Matter                81

of either first on our mental horizon, it is opinion that is the
prior of the two.

Moral Influence

The caracal lies on a shelf in its den in the Zoological
Gardens quietly licking its fur. I go up and stand near it.
It makes a face at me. I come a little nearer. It makes a
worse face and raises itself up on its haunches. I stand and
look. It jumps down from its shelf and makes as if it intended
to go for me. I move back. The caracal has exerted a moral
influence over me which I have been unable to resist.

Moral influence means persuading another that one can
make that other more uncomfortable than that other can
make oneself.

Mental and Physical Pabulum

When we go up to the shelves in the reading-room of the
British Museum, how like it is to wasps flying up and down
an apricot tree that is trained against a wall, or cattle coming
down to drink at a pool!

Eating and Proselytising

All eating is a kind of proselytising—a kind of dogmatising
—a maintaining that the eater's way of looking at things is
better than the eatee's. We convert the food, or try to do
so, to our own way of thinking, and, when it sticks to its own
opinion and refuses to be converted, we say it disagrees with
us. An animal that refuses to let another eat it has the
courage of its convictions and, if it gets eaten, dies a martyr
to them. So we can only proselytise fresh meat, the con-
victions of putrid meat begin to be too strong for us.

It is good for a man that he should not be thwarted—
that he should have his own way as far, and with as little
difficulty, as possible. Cooking is good because it makes,
matters easier by unsettling the meat's mind and preparing
it for new ideas. All food must first be prepared for us by
animals and plants, or we cannot assimilate it; and so
thoughts are more easily assimilated that have been already
digested by other minds. A man should avoid converse with